Sheren Tang on Why She Became an Actress; Reflects on Classic Roles
Anchoring television series for three decades, Sheren Tang (鄧萃雯) reflected on what factors shaped her as an actress and defined her career. Despite being heavily promoted in her early career, Sheren felt unhappy and sought to improve her strengths as an actress. It is this drive to constantly improve herself that led to Sheren’s layered performances which are able to move viewers.
Dubbed as Barbara Yung’s Successor
With her parents divorcing when Sheren was only a young child, Sheren was raised by her grandparents. Feeling alone and incomplete, Sheren often thought about leaving home and starting her life over once she had the money.
As a child, Sheren never dreamed about becoming an actress. After graduating with a high school diploma, 18-year-old Sheren wanted to earn quick money and spend less time at home. Sheren felt that becoming an actress was the fastest way to reach her goal.
Thrilled to be selected among thousands of applicants, Sheren graduated from TVB’s acting class in 1984 and was selected to star as the female lead in The Legend of the Who Never Was <薛仁貴征東>. As her acting instructor told her that she did not possess the looks for a costume drama, Sheren was surprised she was cast.
“If you’re talking about beauty, then I’m definitely not the prettiest one in the class. In fact, I thought Kitty Lai (黎美嫻) and Maggie Shiu (邵美琪) were better looking. I can only guess that it was perhaps due to my personal presentation where I had to create a sketch by myself. Perhaps my presentation had character and showed a lot of heart.”
As Sheren gained recognition after The Legend of the Who Never Was, she was quickly dubbed the next Barbara Yung (翁美玲) due to her fresh image and her debut role in a costume drama. Being named Barbara’s successor was flattering, but also made Sheren feel anxious as the actress had committed suicide in 1985 at the peak of her career.
The lack of young actresses at TVB at the time was also one of the reasons Sheren was promoted from the start. Although a newcomer with no former experience, Sheren was a refreshing face. Viewers would not have big expectations and give less performance pressure on the series itself.
The Cost of Rising Quickly Through the Ranks
At the peak of her popularity, Sheren shockingly decided to take a leave from TVB in order to further her studies. Sheren lacked fulfillment in her early career and did not feel challenged by her onscreen roles. Since she was promoted from the start of her career, Sheren admitted that she did not have to work as hard.
Filming vase-like roles in the new few years, Sheren felt her acting was at a standstill. “I felt myself slowing down, but I wanted to continue to improve. Always doing the same thing gave me a sense of insecurity.”
The biggest turning point was when Sheren played Francis Ng‘s (吳鎮宇) mistress in 1989’s Friends and Lovers <又是冤家又聚頭>. Awed by first female lead Teresa Mo‘s (毛舜筠) powerful performance as a widow, Sheren was not satisfied with her own acting skills and easy roles. Pursuing higher studies, Sheren hoped she can one day be able to play a character she loves and believes in.
Returning to acting after her study break in New York City, Sheren continued her hard work and dedication, and finally received widespread recognition when winning Best Actress in 2009’s Rosy Business <巾幗梟雄> and 2010’s No Regrets <巾幗梟雄之義海豪情>.
Asked about her own favorite performances, Sheren said, “It’s very hard to choose, but it’s probably my role as Yufei in War and Beauty <金枝慾孽>. When I was filming, I didn’t think I would portray the role well. I just wanted to try my best and hope the results are not too bad. Previously, I haven’t portrayed a cunning palace lady before. The dialogue was very difficult to remember, so I didn’t have too much confidence in my performance. But I was more confident in my role in Rosy Business. No Regrets‘ Cheng Kau Mui was also a new type of character for me. When I envisioned her, she was just like a man and only turned into a woman in the romantic scenes.”
While filming Beauty at War <金枝慾孽貳> in 2013, Sheren got into heated arguments with TVB over incomplete scripts during filming, which made it difficult for artistes to prepare for their scenes in advance. Upset by TVB’s work conditions, Sheren added that another reason she left TVB was because she began feeling rather lost amid the fame. Having to work every single day without break, Sheren no longer enjoyed the surroundings because there was no life outside TVB. Sleep-deprived every night while filming a drama, Sheren had no time to see friends or family at all.
Although she is no longer with TVB, Sheren still maintains a good relationship with many people at the station. She is open to filming another TVB drama if there is a good script. Praising TVB’s change in recent business tactics in which they started producing more web-series, Sheren believes it is important for TVB to collaborate with other Mainland Chinese stations to gain a more competitive edge.
Not interested in reprising heavy-hearted roles, Sheren said lighter, comedic roles are more tempting. The 52-year-old actress is grateful that she has already portrayed many memorable roles in her career. “I won’t be too selective as opportunities are not that many anymore. At this stage, I’m not looking for a big role for the next peak in my career.” As long as the role offers challenges and the filming process is not too demanding, Sheren is open to different experiences.
This article is written by Su for JayneStars.com.